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Lawsuit alleges Bassett Unified should have prevented janitor from sexually abusing students

Lawsuit alleges Bassett Unified should have prevented janitor from sexually abusing students
Michael Anthony Barry, a former janitor at Torch Middle School in the City of Industry, was sentenced to 14 years in state prison this week for molesting girls on campus. (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)

The families of seven girls who were sexually abused by a janitor on a middle school campus in the City of Industry filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Bassett Unified School District, alleging school officials failed to prevent the abuse.

Former Torch Middle School janitor Michael Anthony Barry, 60, also is named in the lawsuit, which alleges negligent supervision, sexual harassment, sexual assault and battery.

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School administrators should have noticed that Barry “took an unusual interest and spent an inordinate amount of time” with each of the girls, the lawsuit states. Bassett Unified School District did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Barry was sentenced to 14 years in state prison on Tuesday, about a month after he pleaded no contest to five felony counts of lewd acts on a child, five misdemeanor counts of child molesting and one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Los Angeles County prosecutors said Barry inappropriately touched 10 girls on the middle school campus during school hours between August 2014 and May 2017. The victims were 10 to 12 years old at the time of the abuse.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for medical treatment, emotional distress and pain.

Since the abuse occurred, the girls have had difficulty trusting and interacting with people, including authority figures, and are unable to maintain relationships, according to the lawsuit.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Todd Deeds told reporters last year that Barry “would befriend the victims and be very nice to the victims, and he would do things like offer them candy and just be very kind to them, and he gained their trust as a result.”

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